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Hidden Obesogens in Foods, Beverages, and Environment Disrupt Metabolism

Dr. Linda J. Dobberstein, DC, Board Certified in Clinical Nutrition

Healthy weight management is often a challenge. Even when you do all the right things with a healthy diet and exercise, you can still struggle with being overweight. If calorie restriction, intermittent fasting, and/or increased physical exercise have left you feeling weak and defeated, take some time to evaluate “obesogens” hidden in your surroundings, foods, and beverages.

Obesogen Hypothesis

Obesity is a health problem in the United States and elsewhere around the globe. The rise in obesity correlates with many factors – shift work, sedentary lifestyles, sleep deprivation, high stress, and more. Perhaps the most subtle factor in developing obesity is the presence of “endocrine disrupting compounds” (EDCs) in the food, water, air and soil. These chemical compounds are stored in fat cells and disrupt metabolism and is the basis for the “obesogen hypothesis.”

Obesogen Hypothesis Effects

The “obesogen hypothesis” points to several endocrine disrupting compounds, foods and additives that disrupt the natural function of your metabolism and endocrine function. EDCs look and act like your body’s own natural hormones, but they are not. These man-made compounds promote obesity and are called “obesogens.”

Obesogens promote fat accumulation and obesity. They affect appetite control and satiety. Obesogens change your basal metabolic rate and cause your body to retain calories.

Obesogens impede healthy function of your brain, gastrointestinal tract, liver, pancreas, and thyroid, etc. Obesogens are a primary risk factor for build-up of fatty liver along with metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, cholesterol and blood sugar dysregulation, and increased blood pressure.

Exposure to EDCs and obesogens during pregnancy and early childhood development affects a person’s metabolic set point into adulthood. Chronic exposures can cause cells to be more likely to store fat later in life. It can even affect genetic expression and metabolic function for future generations.

Greatest Source of Obesogenic Compounds

Scientists have determined that some of the greatest sources of obesogenic compounds are in highly processed foods The trend of obesity correlates with increased presence and consumption of packaged, processed foods and the food manufacturing industry in the last several decades. Highlighted below are three compounds in the food supply that are considered obesogens.


Fructose poses a significant concern to metabolism and obesity, especially when it is added to foods. Fructose rich foods include processed foods and beverages with added high fructose corn syrup. It is also found as added pure fructose, fructose-glucose mixtures, and sucrose. Sucrose or table sugar is 50% glucose and 50% fructose and is often found in processed foods. It is commonly extracted from sugar cane or sugar beets.

High fructose intake is associated with fat around your internal organs, insulin resistance, and cardiovascular disease. It promotes